SB 353 and SB 354 Update

The Legislature is back in full-swing after transmittal break. And the excitement we expected in the first half of the session has now begun… Republicans voted against the medicaid expansion, Democrats and moderate Republicans banded together to move the “Dark Money” bill forward, and the question of how to fund infrastructure improvements continues.

Rick Ripley’s Bills (SB 353 and SB 354) have both passed the Senate and have hearings scheduled for March 25th. These bills would reallocate money from the Coal Trust to fund infrastructure projects. These bills could provide a partial solution to a funding mix that all can agree to.

We are also watching a debate in Appropriations sparked by a recent maneuver by DNRC to bypass legislative approval for a building/leasing project.  The process used by DNRC could provide new and more expedient contracting methods for future projects, but several legislators see the move as unseemly and are threatening to close the loophole in the existing law and may threaten the existing project.  A similar issue arose several years ago when the Department of Corrections entered into a lease agreement without legislative approval.  The Legislature at that time denied the lease, and ended up costing the state a large sum of money, and got no new space out of the deal.  We’ll be watching this debate closely.


MSE/ASCE/ASHRAE 2015 Bill List
HB 5 Rep Jeff Wellborn Provide for intrastructure development Rereferred to committee
HB 63 Rep Kathy Swanson Revise licensing/regulation of engineers and land surveyors Signed by the Governor
HB 97 Rep Edith McClafferty Revise alternative contracting process Bill was heard in Highways and Trans.
SB 145 Sen Bradley Hamlett Revise allocation of oil and gas revenue for oil and natural gas impact projects Rereferred to Appropriations
HB 224 Rep Zac Perry Generally revise building code program laws Tabled in committee
HB 312 Rep Nancy Wilson Require MDT to consider growth policies and neighborhood plans Tabled in committee
SB 205 Sen Robyn Driscoll Provide for the Hire Montana First Act Tabled in committee
SB 353 Sen Rick Ripley Constitutional referendum to divert coal trust and create Build Montana program Bill to be heard on Mar 25
SB354 Sen Rick Ripley Create infrastructure funding program Bill to be heard on Mar 25